1/8 – Year of Mercy

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The Jubilee Year of Mercy began on December 8, 2015 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception) and will conclude on November 20, 2016 (the Solemnity of Christ the King).

Pope Francis has, at the cornerstone of his pontificate encouraged mercy and forgiveness as well as reconciliation and communion between the three Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as well as all Christian faiths and tolerance for those who do not believe the same or believe at all.

The plenary indulgence may be gained by passing through the Holy Doors that are opened during the Jubilee Year in the Basilicas of Rome.

To make it more accessible to more people, Pope Francis authorized a Holy Door in all of the Cathedrals across the world as well as in some parishes and shrines, including my own home parish.

Pope Francis called for pilgrimage, but since I didn’t have to go to Rome, I thought of other ways to continue my pilgrimage of faith that I had begun two years before my baptism and welcome into the church.

This was something tangible that I could participate in. My faith and my writing intersect on many, if not all, levels. I did not want to simply walk through the door and have that be it. I discerned and meditated on when I would walk through the Holy Door, and what it would be the beginning of.

It took me weeks to feel the right feelings. I wasn’t sure I cared too deeply about plenary indulgences – I wasn’t even sure what they were, but I did know that I wanted to participate in the Year of Mercy, not only for myself but for the world around me.

Having mercy and offering forgiveness is so much more than not being judgmental and not holding a grudge, and I think as someone who does both, I wanted something spiritual that would teach me and let me expand what I was feeling and needing.

This year is also the year that I turn 50, and I’m not sure that was so much coincidence as fate to get me to this place at this time.

I stood in front of the Holy Door as parishioners went in the main entrance. I studied the picture on the left and the short prayer on the right.

I prayed the Holy Father’s prayer for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy that he provided.

And then I opened the door and stepped in.
There was a whoosh of warm air as the outside air met the inside air, but maybe it was something more. I stood still for a moment as the warmth settled on my face, and then I sat in my regular pew for the regular mass.

During the course of the year, I’ve said the Pope’s Prayer for Mercy several times. I’ve attended the Divine Mercy Mass with the Bishop and recited the Divine Mercy Chaplet on the rosary beads. I’ve gone to reconciliation and said my confession, both on Divine Mercy Sunday and throughout the year when I’ve felt the need to be absolved. I’ve received the Eucharist. I’ve prayed for the Pope’s intentions.

My pilgrimage was a bit more complicated and I’ll talk about that in the weeks to come. leading to the conclusion of this Jubilee Year.

Join me as I post seven more of these, one each Sunday until November 20th.

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